By Jean-François Quénet in Fiorano Modenese
By a margin of 28 seconds, Marco Pinotti kept the pink leader's jersey for the third time in the Giro d'Italia Sunday, but it wasn't an easy task for the six man T-Mobile team. "For the first 100 kilometres, my companions have realized a work that is impossible to describe. They have done it with their heart," said Pinotti.
Yet at the end, Pinotti had to set the pace at the front of the bunch, often by himself. He even led the bunch to the finishing line of Fiorano Modenese, which he crossed in 23rd position behind the 22 break riders. "This is the first bunch sprint win of my life," he laughed afterwards.
Pinotti has an easy-going, polite manner, and leading the Giro puts him in an even better mood. "This position increases my profile. It doesn't hurt me to become more famous," he said. Now that Andrea Noè is 28 seconds behind him, he might have to reconsider how long he can realistically continue his pink jersey adventure. Talking in Italian about his chances to hold the jersey, he referenced an English-language proverb: "Don't count the chickens before they hatch."
Pinotti isn't the kind of bike racer who kills time using a play station. He's the first to give credit to the other cyclists, even though many don't share his level of education. "All of us now travel with a computer and read books," he said of the professional racing lifestyle.
Returning to the subject of the race, Pinotti said he was amazed by the way the break riders rode. "They were 22 riders with six minutes lead 80km before the finish, and they still had four minutes at the end," he said.
"It was unlikely that we'd catch them. That's why Milram didn't work for a bunch sprint finish. I also have the impression that some of them got dropped on the climb. There was no way that the breakaway would have succeeded if Riccò had stayed up there. When he moved back to our bunch, Saunier Duval also came and worked at the front of the bunch. I believe they were practicing for the time in the Giro when they'll have to defend the pink jersey. I retain Simoni and Riccò among the hot favourites."
Pinotti was concerned that his teammates had to work so hard. "At some stage, I've thought that we should maybe give up and let the breakaway take 15 minutes. What would have the teams of the favourites done?" In fact, riders like Caisse d'Epargne's David Arroyo, Tinkoff's Evgeni Petrov, and also Patxi Vila and Marzio Bruseghin from Lampre were not the type of riders to be offered half an hour lead like happened with Oscar Pereiro at last year's Tour de France.
"Wearing the pink jersey definitely gives the feeling of responsibility," Pinotti concluded.
For complete stage 8 coverage of the Giro D'Italia, click here.